“Cassie, really,” dad said when we pulled into the town’s main diner parking lot. “You’ve got to keep your head out of the past,” he said. I smiled over at him. He probably assumed I was still thinking about mom or the house or something.

“Alright,” I said as I climbed out of the car and into the cool autumn air. “What’re we doing now?”

A cool breeze ruffled my hair, some of which got in my face. I brushed it back quickly as I turned to glance at dad. He was staring at the front of the diner, and I’m sure he was remembering something. He and mom had lived in little Anthony, Kansas for almost ten years before she had died and a lot of the places we had been around town and had sent his mind wandering.

I should have gotten angry at him for telling me to not think about the past, because he obviously was, but I didn’t. This was more of his town than it had ever been mine, and even when he was distracted dad could be deadly. It was me who had to worry about keeping on my toes.

“We’re just getting a late lunch,” dad finally said, slamming the car door shut and walking towards the diner doors. “It’s going to be too wet tonight for the demon to do anything, so we might as well relax a little.”

I followed him, frowning. That wasn’t dad’s usual attitude towards hunting. Even though the weather said there would be lots of rain tonight, and the clouds gathering on the horizon agreed, it would still have been prudent of us to try to find the demon before he could cause any more damage.

The town thought they had a particularly prolific arsonist running around town. Almost every night there had been a fire somewhere, and most of the time it had burned so hot that the fire department hadn’t been able to put it out until the fire ran out of fuel. There had already been several deaths, people getting trapped inside of burning buildings.

Once inside the diner, dad picked an empty booth in the far corner and a chipper, blonde waitress hurried over with two glasses of water.

“Hi, I’ll be your server today, what can I get for you?” she asked in an equally chipper voice. She was very enthusiastic, which was quaint. Dad ordered his usual steak and potatoes, and I decided to try the daily special, which was baked spaghetti with a chef’s salad.

Once the waitress left, dad began drawing symbols on his napkin. It’s a bad habit he has. He usually leaves random spells lying around on napkins, like one time he had doodled a summoning spell, just practicing really, but he had accidentally left it at the restaurant. A week later we’d had to return to clean out the demons that had been attracted to the napkin.

“You know, you really shouldn’t do that,” I told him, like I did every time he did it. He shrugged, then looked up at me.

“I’ve almost found the demon. I think I know where it’ll strike next, we just have to wait until tomorrow to catch it,” he said. I sighed. Dad was a great hunter, but sometimes he miss judged when a demon would or wouldn’t attack.

“Where?” I asked, without pressing him on the time issue, yet. He glanced around, making sure no one was close enough to listen, then leaned forward. He waited until I had leaned forward as well before he answered.

“One of the duplex’s near the old house,” he said. I raised an eyebrow. We had just driven from that neighborhood, and he hadn’t said anything while we were there. Why had he waited until know to tell me

“Why makes you say that?” I asked. I always had to get him to explain himself, or I would never learn anything. Even though I was twenty-two, I was still learning from him. I would probably be learning from him until the day I died.

He glanced around again. “Because several of the houses we passed had the mark.”

I sighed. This was going to be one of those days.

“If the houses have the mark now, what makes you think the demon’s not going to attack one of them tonight?” I asked. Sometimes I had to ask him questions that got him thinking. Thinks like timing he was never able to think through properly. But I guess that was why I was with him.

He frowned, realizing that he might have been mistaken. When he looked back up at me he gave me a sheepish grin.

“I guess we don’t have time to eat then,” he said. I nodded, standing up. I was going to miss trying the baked spaghetti, but if we got the demon tonight then maybe I could try it tomorrow.

While I headed out to the car, dad cancelled our order with the waitress. We had a firebug demon to catch.

The End

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